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Downstate Road Trip Round Up: Best Burger Joint

Regional road trips are all the rage right now. Many folks feel most comfortable hopping in the car with their loved ones and exploring sights that are off the beaten path. Some of those sights may even be in your own backyard! For plenty of regional travel ideas, check-in every Wednesday for a Downstate Illinois Road Trip Roundup on themed topics showcasing several destinations across the southern portion of the state. Since it is National Hamburger Month, let’s focus on some of the best burger joints in the region!


May is National Hamburger Month! Celebrate by dining in or ordering out at some of Carbondale’s local eateries! Here are just a few that serve up mouthwatering burgers!

Dale’s Burger Shack brings Chicago to Carbondale with handmade burgers, hot dogs, hand-cut fries, deli and breakfast sandwiches as well as a variety of sides and apps. Vegetarian and vegan options are also available.

Underground Public House is a cozy pub focused on eclectic world beer cuisine and culture, featuring seasonal farm to table menus. All menu items are made from scratch and there are a variety of burgers to choose from ranging from the traditional Underground Burger to a Vegan Falafel Burger!

Owned and operated by two brothers, Keepers Quarters offers food that prioritizes seasonal flavors from local food producers. Keepers Quarters serves elevated pub-style fare with a creative blend of burgers and refined plated entrees, appetizers, and desserts. With a new addition, The Bodega, Keepers Quarters now also offers deli meats cut to order as well as to-go sandwiches, house-cured bacon, house-cut, bone-in meats, sauces, soups, fresh pasta and baked goods for customers to take home. Stop by and try the Smokey Bleus or Hey Sailor burger!

Flame Grill & Bar offers innovative menu choices from fine dining to the weeknight burger out with a fun atmosphere. With bold decor, generous portions, and an outdoor patio, it’s the perfect foundation for a captivating dining experience. The Whisky Creek and Black & Blue Burger are two favorites!

A long-time hotspot, Mary Lou’s Grill serves a wide variety of breakfast foods and lunch platters. Serving up big, juicy, burgers and sandwiches for lunch, this classic family diner has been operating for more than 5 decades.

Effingham Despite a few abnormally chilly days, the Midwest’s grilling and barbecuing season has officially commenced – and with it, comes an especially-appropriate national holiday: National Hamburger Month! Of course, you can commemorate the occasion right in your own backyard, but if you’re looking for a way to really celebrate this traditional American cuisine, we’ve got a few local eateries that know just how to craft a one-of-a-kind burger.

Make plans for lunch at the restaurant that guarantees guests will enjoy the “Greatest of All Times” – Gabby Goat American Pub & Grill! “The Goat” – as it has been fondly nicknamed – features an American Pub Grub menu which, of course, wouldn’t be complete without their hand-crafted, specialty burgers. Try a twist on the traditional with the Effing”ham” Burger, described as a classic beef patty topped with grilled ham, cheddar and swiss cheeses. If you’re looking to kick the flavor up a notch, check out the Flaming Goat Burger. This is a must-try burger for those who love all things spicy, with its blackened seasoning, grilled onions, goat cheese, jalapenos and sriracha hot sauce.

If classic ‘diner’ vibes are more your speed, you won’t want to miss Cruiser’s Drive Thru! This family-owned and operated fast-food restaurant was renovated from a 1940’s ice cream parlor to a restaurant in the 1960’s, finally becoming ‘Cruiser’s Drive Thru,’ as it is now known, in 1995. A local favorite, Cruiser’s has won numerous awards for its sandwiches, specifically for its classic All-American cheeseburgers (which pair perfectly with their famous crispy crinkle-cut fries. Order to-go or enjoy patio seating under their shade trees. What pairs better with a burger than a cold, handcrafted brew!

If you’re searching for this perfect combination, then you can’t miss a stop at Effing Brew Company in Downtown Effingham. This veteran-owned and operated brewery is a local hotspot for craft beer junkies and – you guessed it – burger connoisseurs. Ask about their specials, as artisan burgers are a staple for this pub-style restaurant, or sample from their year-round menu which includes variations of burgers on pretzel buns, smothered in beer cheese and served up with a basket of fries. Pair yours with a cold ‘Granville Davis APA’ or ‘Chadillac IPA’ and you can’t go wrong. For more information on where to find the best burgers in Effingham, contact Visit Effingham at 217-342-5310. We’re happy to guide you to the perfect place to satisfy your cravings… whatever they may be!


There are SO many iconic burger joints in our 22-county territory. Seemingly every community has that one ‘go-to’ spot where folks pick up their favorite hamburgers.

For those who have been to Carlyle Lake in Clinton County, you’ve almost certainly been directed to Wally’s in Breese. For a deliciously simple burger, Wally’s is the place to go. This joint is a bonafide staple in the community of Breese – their reputation is so strong that Wally’s doesn’t even have a Facebook page or website!

Greenville is home to Kahuna’s, which features some amazing creations like the Sunset Burger and the Big Kahuna. The Sunset Burger has a sweet chili cream cheese that will make your taste buds dance!

Chuck’s Place in Salem is another hit among southern Illinoisans. Chuck’s Place has been run by the same family for nearly 40 years, and the burgers have been made the same way for over five decades. There are two monster burgers on their menu, named the ‘Wimpy’ and the other is named the ‘Brutus.’ They weigh in at over a pound, and they’re as delicious as they are huge.

In Clark County there is a fabled burger joint that attracts thousands and thousands of folks each year – the Moonshine Store. Simply getting to Moonshine is part of this restaurant’s charm, because it’s out in the middle of nowhere. Once you arrive, the Moonburger is the way to go. Moonshine is consistently rated as one of the top 25 burgers in the state! Over the years, Moonshine has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and several other shows and publications – it’s DEFINITELY worth the road trip.

For an old-school drive-in experience complete with carhop service, head to Carmi for a tasty burger at Yesterdays Drive-In. This joint will give you all the nostalgia, as it’s high on flavor and low on price – five bucks will get you five hamburgers!

If you’re into the food truck scene these days, there is one out of Wabash County that specializes in some of the tastiest smashburgers you will ever try – Two Farmers Burgers and Beignets. Folks have been known to travel over an hour or more just to try this up and coming food truck, wherever they happen to be vending. If you’re REALLY hungry, they’ll let you add as many patties to the burger as you’d like – and don’t forget their amazing beignets for dessert!


Mt. Vernon

Sinking your teeth into a great burger can put a smile on your face like no other. In Mt. Vernon, there are several places to get fabulous burgers. A few of our favorites are Double Overtime Grill, Showdown Steakhouse & Saloon and Bonnie Café.

At the Double Overtime Grill, located inside the DoubleTree Hotel, the mouth-watering Gouda Bacon Burger is the existential definition of tasty! Juicy and succulent and cooked to your liking, with crisp bacon and smoked gouda on a brioche bun, this burger will fulfill the burger craving and then some. Enjoy it with sweet potato fries or the mixed frites – sweet potato and regular potato fries! Other burgers grace the menu as well including one with caramelized mushrooms and melted swiss and a patty melt.

The Showdown Steakhouse & Saloon ½ pound burger topped however you like it with a side of fries is the! Quality beef and a soft toasted bun make the burger good with or without added toppings. Mushroom & Swiss burger, Maddog Maxwell Burger (BBQ sauce & bacon) and burger specials are also top notch. Enjoy it with a cold beer while you catch the game or race on one of several TVs.

If you are looking for a good ole fashioned diner burger, Bonnie Café is the place to go. Seared thin on a griddle and available in small or large, these burgers fulfill the greasy burger craving. Paired with crinkle fries is the way to go, but other sides are available as well.



So many burgers, so little time! Roundup all your foodie friends for this week’s mouthwatering road trip! You can’t go wrong when you order a burger in Williamson County, but we’ve narrowed it down to a few extra special burger spots you don’t want to miss.

We’ll start off with one of the area’s best kept secrets and staple burger joint, Nesler’s Polar Whip in Energy. This little family-owned hole-in-the-wall has been serving up their secret recipe since 1931. Locals can’t get enough of these delicious burgers, so the $2.25 price tag for a triple patty sandwich is as sweet as a deal can get.

Just down the road, you’ll find the Burger Nook Café in Herrin, another long-time local favorite. This little restaurant has amassed a number of regulars over the years with its casual atmosphere and delicious fare! After a recent naming contest, the Burger Nook Café has added a new specialty burger to their already great line-up. The “Megafest” burger comes complete with two patties, American cheese, onion shoots, and a super special sauce – YUM.

Teddy’s Bar & Grill in Herrin is another can’t miss for those with an all-American palate. Not only is Teddy’s one of the area’s best hangouts, they also have excellent food. Topped with XXX wing sauce, mozzarella cheese, American cheese, grilled jalapenos and onions, the “Volcano” burger is not for the faint of heart, but we recommend it for all the adventurous eaters!

In Marion, Pookie’s Beer, Burgers, and Bocce is the place for great food and gatherings! Enjoy a Creole burger or the signature Pookie burger while you play bags or bocce ball!